Thursday, January 29, 2015

Feeling the Feelings

I'm going to go out on a limb and state something really obvious.  Being a mom is hard.  Wonderful, yes.  But really frigging hard.  And I really don't think it matters if you are a stay-at-home mom or a work-outside-of-the-home mom.  Each has its challenges, and at the end of the day - you are raising a human being.  It's wonderful.  And hard.  All at the same time.

Most days I feel like I have two jobs.  One job pays me in dollars and the other one pays me in open mouth kisses, the handing off of chewed up food, and tantrums.  You might think that the job that pays me in dollars would be more stressful than the one that doesn't, but it's the opposite.  I sit at work and I'm thinking about Cam - wondering how his day might be going at daycare, and counting down the minutes until I get to hug and squeeze him at pick up.  I don't sit at home on the evenings and weekends thinking about work.  I'm confident in my abilities at my dollar paying job as a project manager, but I'm not always confident in my abilities and decision making skills as a mother.

I know I'm not alone, either.  All mothers face challenges, question their abilities and decision making, and at times - feel inadequate.  (And if a mother told me she didn't - I would call her a liar.)

One of my many challenges, is that Ryan's work schedule changes a lot, and he frequently has to work odd or extended shifts.  This week he started another round of swing shift (6pm - 6am).  This shift means a couple things for our family.  First, we see Ryan for about five minutes in the morning after he gets home and before we leave for daycare/work, and then we see him again for about 20 minutes after we get home from daycare/work and before he leaves.  Second, when/if he is home on the weekends, he is utterly exhausted and trying to catch up on sleep.  Third, and perhaps the more obvious, is that this means that I'm flying solo on the parental duties.  Maybe this makes me sound like a big 'ol whiner, but when you throw in pregnancy, swim lessons, meals, baths, and the bedtime routine, all after a full day at work - it makes for one very tired mommy.

Normally, I feel like I keep my shit together.  I go about my evening, and enjoy the time I get to spend with my little man cub.

Tuesday, however, I did not keep my shit together.  At all.

I picked Camden up from daycare, raced home to see Ryan for five minutes, and then got Cam and I back in the car to go to swim lessons.  Just pulling into the parking lot at the YMCA is enough to give someone a panic attack, because holy New Year's Resolutions.  Not a spot to be found.  I circled and circled the massive parking lot, and in hindsight, I should have taken this as a flashing red sign to wave my white surrender flag and go home.  Instead, we found a spot and went inside where I quickly discovered I forgot (of all things) a swim diaper.  Swim lessons were all good and fun (after I borrowed a swim diaper from a fellow mom), and as a bonus - my mom was there to help get Cam dried and dressed afterwards.  Lucky for me, having her help gave me the extra ten seconds I need to wipe the smeared mascara off of my face, so I could avoid walking out of the place looking like a psychopath.

I got Camden into the car and the thought of going home to prepare dinner made me want to rip out my hair, so we drove across the street to Panera.  It was while sitting in the blessed drive-thru line that I responded to an earlier text message from Tiff.  I don't remember exactly what I said but I know it included, "chaotic," "in the Panera drive-thru," and "I have nothing left."  I should mention here that I always feel bad whining to Tiff about being an exhausted mother.  She stays at home with her busy-body boy Huck, and I don't know how she does it.  I'm pretty sure that if I were a stay at home mom, I would "have nothing left" every single day.

We got home, unloaded, settled, and started in on our dinner.  Cam wasn't super interested in his meal (shocker!), and was more interested in playing with his toys.  He wasn't being naughty by any means, but if he did something that I would normally, calmly, tell him not to do - there was no calmness in me to be found.  Only me raising my voice and my already short patience fuse was burning shorter and shorter.    

Time to start the bedtime routine quickly arrived, so we hopped upstairs.  Camden continued to be in his normal, turkey-ish spirits, only slightly fighting me when I was trying to brush his teeth because "I do it" (he wanted to do it himself) and asking for more "wotion".  Instead of letting him do it himself for a minute, and giving him another dab of lotion, I raised my voice yet again, clearly losing my cool.  We sat in the rocking chair to read books, and rocked together all snuggly for a few minutes afterwards.  Cam was calm and happy, totally oblivious that five minutes earlier I was about to lose it, and giving me more kisses than I could have ever asked for.  And more kisses than I clearly deserved.  I gave him one last squeeze, laid him down, said "I love you, buddy," turned off the light, and closed the door.

The door wasn't even completely closed before the ugly crying face made its really ugly appearance.

In that moment, the last three hours came crashing down and I felt like the worst mother in the world.  Seriously, I spend three hours with him this afternoon/evening and I can't handle it?   

Don't confuse yourself and think that this was my first rough day rodeo.  I've had plenty of days where I thought I could have "done better," or wished that I could have a redo, but right then - I felt absolutely terrible.  Terrible because I felt like I squandered the few hours I get with Camden.  Terrible because he didn't do anything to deserve my frustration.  And terrible because the days of him being the sole recipient of my mommy love are numbered.  I won't even go into the part about me questioning my abilities to bring another baby into our house and parent two kids.

As I was blubbering to myself in our bedroom (texting Tiff and Cara, practically begging them to tell me that they've felt like this too), I knew that my feelings of inadequacy and my inability to cut myself some slack were borderline ridiculous.  Maybe even a few toes over the line, ridiculous.  I know pregnancy hormones were playing their dirty tricks on me because until this week, I've overall felt very even keeled and not at all like a dramatic, hormonal pregnant woman.     

No one (pregnant or otherwise) can keep it together all the time.  No one has unlimited patience.  We're all allowed to have bad/off days.  And I know all of these things.  I was telling myself all of these things (as were Tiff and Cara), but the more I tried to reassure myself that I am a human being, the worse I felt.  I finally hopped in the shower, drank a bunch of water (while trying to trick myself into thinking it was a delicious pinot noir), read my book, swore that the next day would be a fresh one, and went to sleep.

I vowed to take tonight night off from swim lessons - to give myself a break and just have a quiet night at home.  Clearly, I'm still reflecting and feeling all the feelings from Tuesday.  I know I'll get over myself eventually and move on -- probably to feeling all the feelings about bringing a new baby home.

I bet you can't wait to read about those feelings.

Take Luck,

1 comment:

  1. I'm with ya buddy--I have these days too (and then I question myself how I'm going to possible do them with TWO kids!), but having great friends to turn to and knowing the crappy hubs' schedule will pass gives light to the end of the tunnel. You're a fantastic mama and Cam and baby girl are so lucky to call you that! :) love you buddy!!


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